Flipping through dollar bins is a time-honored tradition, especially at Toronto’s own Sonic Boom. Our friend Eric is sifting through the $1 records one-by-one, and learning lessons along the way. The rules are that he has to listen to the entire record, and not to do any research about artists before listening to avoid any contextual bias.
Songs for Children to Know
COVER: A very pleasant and relaxing scene of Goldilocks and the three bears on an Easter Sunday stroll. Mother Bear enjoys the simple pleasures of sunshine and fresh air while the little ones enjoy their Easter gifts. Only a bemused Poppa Bear notices the crow perched on Mother Bear’s pretty new hat.
However, that pleasant scene is just a red herring for the impending creep show. The back cover alludes to the madness with a terrifying short essay on the value of children with many dark turns. i.e. “Here is a record dedicated to the young imagination. That same imagination that drives us to the fringe of madness; moments later, causes such joy!”
THOUGHTS: Total creep show. For some reason it was illegal for children to enter recordings studios during the 1960s. So adults had to record child voice-overs in child voices. But because recording types are all degenerates, none of them had seen a child let alone talked to one in many years. As a result all children sound like cartoon mice. Obviously this works to a great effect in “Three Blind Mice”—it renders the other songs as menacing and foreboding.
WHAT I LEARNED: The original version of Clementine explains the mournfulness that makes it so dern fun to sing.
BEST TRACK: “Clementine”
This is the kind of song that haunts a child for the rest of their life. I’m fairly certain they don’t make these any more, which is best. (Spoiler alert: Clementine dies at the end!)
AFTER GOOGLING: I came across this, which is a rare instance wherein white Americans can complain about Anglo-Saxons appropriating and maligning a piece of their folk culture.
Charlie Kunz – The Song We Sang (1961)
COVER: Zeppelins moored to a skyline, which is a cool and excellent nostalgia I can buy into. Includes a huge track list of charmingly old-timey sounding songs like “Sleepy Lagoon,” “Doloros,” and “Ferryboat Serenade”.
The back contains a short essay, sourcing The Song We Sang as WWII era. I was hesitant to pick this one because I was afraid this album would be simply “unexciting corn.” The essay also assured me of this grievous thought: “To those younger people who are inclined to dismiss popular music of the past as unexciting corn we recommend this programme without reserve.”
THOUGHTS: I got a kick out of it. It made me feel like I was in a really nice brothel in the Boardwalk Empire universe. If you want to feel dapper it would be excellent music to comb your hair to.
WHAT I LEARNED: Listening to music whose primary fan base is dead is not always a pointless exercise.
BEST TRACK: “Don’t Fence Me In”
A rousing version of Hobo classic “Don’t Fence Me In.” It sounds like the other ones, really, but the record grooves are super close together and the songs segue into one another. “Don’t Fence Me In” was at the end and recognizable.
AFTER GOOGLING: You can still buy this in mp3 format, which somehow just don’t seem right.
Lenny Dee – In the Mood (1986)
COVER: Fairly sexy. A man gives a seemingly nude woman a smooch on the cheek as she grins wide-mouthed and carnal. Above her reads, “In the Mood/ Lenny Dee at the Organ.” Is Lenny Dee the lady? Which organ? (<======*DiCk JoKe*; ) ; ) ; ))
THOUGHTS: Sexy swinger music from the grooviest of decades for those who couldn’t get their rocks off to psychedelic rock and roll. They don’t make it like they used to, which is fine because the organ lost all of its sexy potential after Pink Floyd.
WHAT I LEARNED: That one’s desire to do Austin Powers impressions 15 years after the fact are simply lying dormant. In truth they exist within you always. Austin Powers is an entirely new human archetype. THAT’s what I learned.
BEST TRACK: “Happiness Is”
A swinging little number that represents, more or less, what happiness is, at least for the hyperactive swinger type.
AFTER GOOGLING: According to Wikipedia, this fella used to play shows with his favourite poodle who would bark along. What a delight that would have been to see!